Evening Readers - assuming there are any of you left......before I start I should add a quick caveat. So I know that even my my own cacky handed mismanagement of my own out put that my first blog post this year taking place in November 2023 is somewhat taking the piss. And am sorry about that. Apart from a recent op and a few holidays there really aren't any reasosn let alone excuses - its just that I haven't. Its nothing personal I promise.
So back in the 1990s my central heating bust in late November and for a number of reasons we didn#'t manage to get it fixed pre Chrimbo. We all wnt home at the same and my mate came back into the freezinjg house for one night before coming home. I returned on what I think was the 28th and found a frozen glass of water onh the side. It was so cold when I went to bed that night I had to turn the TV round so its back faced me to get heat and I slep fully clothed in a sleepoing bag covered in blankets. That morning haing turned it back round I saw footage taken outside the Crask Inn showing at what I thought was minus 36 making it the coldest place in the UK ever. Sadly the met office have a weather station aat possibly Tallus a few miles away which measured it lower, but I never forgot about this. And then my life happened.
A few years ago I jokingly asked WK if he fancied driving me the 509 miles to Crask - surprisingly he seemed interested but insusted he definitely wasn't promising. I started following - and still do - the Crask Inn on Faceache. I was quite shocked to hear that the pub was to be sold to the Scotttish Episcopa;ian church abd told WK. On my birthday he said if I could get the first week in July off he would take us. I did. And he did.
We stayed the firsdt night in Glasgow - starting our drinks at the Old Toll Bar, a large N.I pub about a mile away from our hotel. Years ago they sold one or two cask beers - this has thankfully been replaced by at least 6 Craft Kegs. I know both WK and I got a pint of Black Isle each and possibly also a pint of Camper Van but there were plenty of crackers in the range!
After we made the lengthy trek through the pissing rain to the fabullous bon Accord where WK got a pint of sunshine on Keith which may be Spey Valley and I know I got the same and another Spey Valley. Was last in the Bon Accord in 2009 and it didn't seem to have changed much!
Next to last was my first visit to the Pot Still - WF and Frank Glasgow (as I call him ) both recommended and we may have been on Loch Lomond - am sadly not in a position right now to confirm if either of us tried any of the ridiculous range os shiskeys.
Our dinal stop was little further along the road to the Shilling Brewery Tap. Along with a few of their own they also sold about 6 kegs and 12 cans of the fabulous Overtone. Me and WK shared truly fantastic hagguis pizzas and it was a short walk back to the hotel.
The next day it was a short wander round Glasgow before we got off to find the motorway and were soon travelling up the coast on the A9 - just 256 miles or similar to Crask. An early chat with new manager Shane presented us we thought with mints and dough Balls at half 6 - and after two Waterfall stops and a trundle down a lengthy single track A Road we finally arrived about 18000. Soon into our included evening meal it turned out that mints was instead mince - and bloody nice it was too - and we got chatting to a few other guests and afterwards made it into the bar.
Am not going to pretend that I wasnt disappointed upon discovering they no longer stocked Black Isle Beers on their two keg lines - Shane told us that they had discovered it was difficult to control their beers and so they now only stocked Isle of Skye beers - a pint of Gold and a pint of Dark for me ans WK. They also appeared to stock their full range of cans and bottles, which was a pleasant surprise.
Later Shane asked me why had visited - so I told him everything - including my horror at its upcoming sale to the church. shane pointed out it had already been sold and was already a church - a fact I was surprised at = ni his defence Shane asked if I had noticed any churchiness = I had to admit I hadn't.
we stayed for three nights in all - the first full day a trip to the Casser;ey falls followed by a nearer waterfall and finished by a wander up to Tongue. The Highlands guide said both of the two premises in Toungue sold real ale but the hotel had been sold and served keg in the bar - I opted for a pint of Black Isle at about 3.7% and something like £8 a pint before heading to he Ben Loyal - here I was told the handpumps hadn't been able to stand the recent high temperatures so they had stopped selling real ale. Its a shame because both served a good number of kegs but sadly not cask from the past
After a further excellent tea we once again spent a couple of hours back in the Crask Inn bar where we chatted to Shane's wife - sadly both myself and WK are unable to recall her name but enjoyed chatting to her none the less. Shane and his family had moved about 6 months ago to Sutherland from Alabamha - his wife said she loved the haggis and black and white pudding and venison and also that the only difference between there and here was that 15 degrees was colder - I said we would speak to her next year after her first highland winter!
The next day we drove don to Arrochar where we stopped in a large hotel hoping to visit the Village Inn. Sadly it was not possible to eat there so we ate at the hotel and then walked down to the Village Inn for one of about 4 real ales - mostly Fyne Ales. The Village Inn was a regular stop off for WF so even thopugh we could not eat there it was still noce to get back.
Next we headed - actually am not sure when - tp the Grog and Gruel in Fort William - this may well have been before Glencoe? A couple for me in there were very nice either way. We also stopped off in Ayr at the Chestnuts Hotel - not least to shelter from the rain - and I enjoyed a pint before me and WK returned to Culzean Castle to see the spot where WF and Grandad's ashes are scattered, before we ended up in Dumfries. On my last visit had visited the New Bazaar at the side of the river - now sadly closed.
We started at the Douglas Arms where they had a fabulous range of cask on and Drygate Gladeye IPA and others on keg. We then poped out for tea before finishing our night in the fantastic Riverside Tap, a bar selling about 8 keg ales including at least two Tempest and possible two Overtone - one of which was a fantastic DIPA!
Overall it was obviously very tiring for WK so am very much in appreciation of uis efforts and on every level, I have to say I enjoyed every where we visited and especially the Crask Inn at Crask!